Kitchen Countertops 101: Selecting a Surface Material

Whether you are remodeling a kitchen, building one from scratch or just prepared to give yours a face-lift, countertops are a central part of the appearance. And you might be daunted by the wealth of choices available on the marketplace; countertop surfaces vary from well-known butcher block to less common materials like glass and terrazzo. We have chosen 11 of the most popular to get you started. Keep reading to get the one which’s right for you.

Connected: Installing a Countertop, From Start to Finish

Green Apple Design


Pros: Granite’s beautiful mottling and the host of colors and patterns found in nature make each piece one of a kind. It stands up well to splashes, knife nicks, warmth and other wear and tear.

Disadvantages: Like many stone, granite has to be sealed every so often to avoid stains. And its own heaviness means you’ll need very hardy cabinet boxes to support the weight.

Price: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed

Andre Rothblatt Architecture

Solid Surfacing

Made primarily from acrylic and polyester, solid surfacing first was sold under the brand name Corian, which is often (wrongly) used as a generic term for this. Today, it’s made by a host of manufacturers and has enjoyed continuous popularity over the years.

Pros: Because solid surfacing is nonporous, it’s practically maintenance free — no sealing or special cleaning needed. Although it can be susceptible to burns and scrapes, those are easy to sand outside. Color and layout choices are extensive, and since you are not trying for the look of a natural substance, you can experiment with vibrant hues like turquoise or tomato red. Seamless installation means there are no cracks to trap debris and dirt.

Disadvantages: Solid surfacing can have a patently artificial appearance and feel, yet can approach the cost of natural rock. As mentioned above, it doesn’t stand up to hot pans or sharp knives in addition to other materials.

Price: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed

More about solid surface kitchen countertops

Julia Williams, ASID

Quartz Surfacing

Crafted of resin and quartz chips tinted with color, quartz surfacing (also known as engineered walnut or engineered stone) is a good compromise between the beauty of stone and the easy care of solid surfacing.

Pros: Quartz surfacing has the very same advantages as solid surfacing with regard to maintenance. As an engineered product, it’s offered in a much greater array of colors and patterns compared to natural rock.

Disadvantages: This substance doesn’t possess the natural variegation of granite, so it can be evident that it’s an engineered product. It is relatively expensive, although its durability can make it a worthwhile investment.

Price: $40 to $90 per square foot, installed

Fiorella Design


Is there anything that looks and feels more glamorous than a marble countertop? Peerless in terms of its luminescence and identifying veining, it’s an ultratraditional option.

Pros: Nothing beats marble for sheer elegance. It stands up to heat well, and because it stays perennially trendy, it’s a conventional choice for pastry and baking channels (read: Dough won’t get too soft).

Disadvantages: Marble is very prone to stains, despite sealing. For that reason, it’s not frequently used throughout an whole kitchen many homeowners restrict it to one or two little locations. Additionally, it may scratch and chip.

Price: $40 to $100 per square foot, installed

Norberry Tile & Plumbing Studio


Engineered and inexpensive, ceramic and ceramic tile offers almost limitless choices for colors and designs. Tile works with almost any kitchen style, from nation to majestic Old World.

Pros: It holds its own against warmth and sharp blades, and resists stains. If one or two tiles chip or crack, they’re fairly easy to replace.

Disadvantages: Tile’s irregular surface can make it tough to balance a cutting board or roll out a pie crust. Unsealed grout is prone to discoloration; standing moisture can damage it and contribute to bacterial growth.

Price: $10 to $80 per square foot, installed

The Shabby Nest


Made of paper combined with resins and fused to particle board, laminate has been a kitchen mainstay for decades. In years past it has not always had a reputation as stylish, but that’s changing: The latest designs available on the market mimic rock, butcher block and other warmer surfaces.

Pros: Laminate is one of the most inexpensive countertop materials, so it’s a good choice if your budget is tight. It is low maintenance and easy to clean. Its light weight doesn’t require the support of a thick cabinet base.

Disadvantages: Laminate is prone to scratching, burns and, in some cases, staining. With use and moisture exposure, the layers can peel. Because of the raw particle board core, you can’t utilize laminate using undermount sinks, and it’s also tricky to fix if it gets damaged.

Price: $10 to $30 per square foot, installed

Frank Valdes


even though it’s in no danger of overtaking granite, soapstone has come into its own as a countertop material. It gives subtle, nuanced beauty yet feels humbler than granite or marble.

Pros: Soapstone has a natural softness and depth that suits very well with older and cottage-style homes. Although it usually starts out light to medium grey, it darkens with time. (Many men and women like the obtained patina, but you could consider this a con)

Disadvantages: Soapstone wants polishing with oil to keep it in top shape. It can decode over time, and it can’t handle knife scratches and nicks in addition to some other forms of rock. The natural roughness of its surface can scuff glassware and china.

Price: $70 to $100 per square foot, installed

More about soapstone kitchen counters

Studio William Hefner

Stainless Steel

Once found largely in commercial kitchens, stainless steel has become vogue within the previous two decades. These countertops are all custom made to meet your own kitchen, so you are ensured a tailored appearance.

Pros: There is a reason stainless steel is employed in pubs and other high-traffic kitchens: It is nearly indestructible, and it resists heat and germs. Additionally, it supplies a very distinctive appearance that feels appropriate in modern and industrial-style kitchens.

Disadvantages: Fingerprints series and must be wiped off regularly, and stainless steel can also dent. It can be loud like pots, pans and dishware clang against the surface. Chemicals can affect its color and trigger undesirable etching. Stainless steel is very expensive due to the custom manufacture.

Price: $65 to $125 per square foot, installed

Schwartz and Architecture


Believe concrete is just for flooring? Think again. Slightly edgier compared to other substances, concrete countertops have an industrial chic that fits into a loft or adds interest to an otherwise conventional space.

Pros: Concrete is very versatile: It can be cast in any shape and custom tinted any shade you desire. You easily can add special inlays, including glass fragments, rocks and shells. Concrete stands up to heavy usage, even though it is not as heat resistant as any other surfaces.

Disadvantages: since it’s porous, concrete will probably blot without regular sealing. With time and settling, little cracks can grow. Concrete is very heavy and will require strong support beneath. Like stainless steel, its own custom made creation ups the price tag.

Price: $75 to $125 per square foot, installed

Buckminster Green LLC

Butcher Block

Butcher cube has a traditional appeal and always appears fresh. It is particularly fitting for traditional, country and cottage-style kitchens.

Pros: Many homeowners like butcher block warm, natural appearance and variegated wood tones. Though knives scrape it, many people like the shopworn seem it grows — after all, it’s what chopping blocks have been made of for years. But you can also sand scratches down effortlessly.

Disadvantages: Wood swells and contracts with moisture exposure, and butcher block is no exception. It harbors germs and requires regular disinfecting. Oiling is a must to fill in scratches and protect the surface.

Price: $35 to $70 per square foot, installed

Brennan + Company Architects

Paper Composite

Paper countertops? You read it correctly. Created from newspaper fibers blended with resin, this surface is eco friendly and a whole lot more durable than it seems.

Pros: Paper composite evokes the look of solid surfacing or laminate but using a warmer sensibility. It is surprisingly hardy and can withstand water and heat admirably. Additionally, it is a excellent deal lighter than natural rock or concrete.

Disadvantages: The substance is not scratchproof and is susceptible to chemical damage. It requires an occasional rubdown with mineral oil, and even sanding, to refresh it. Although it seems like it might be a lower-budget option, it is not (unless you install it yourself).

Price: $85 to $125 per square foot, installed

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